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date: 28 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In claiming to be a “positive” science devoid of normativity, economics ignores a complex operation that involves personal, moral, and ethical assumptions; this chapter critically examines these assumptions via analysis of economic language and practice. We find that there is no such thing as positive, value-free economics; that the normative components are embedded in explicit and implicit assumptions; that economics is consequently heavily value laden; and that these assumptions replace traditionally religious values and archetypes. This chapter also shows how economists use argumentation that appears egoistic, but is at base altruistic. Juxtaposing this treatment of economics with an economic view of ancient myths, we find that consumption and growth are fundamental human problems, and that today our focus and reliance on institutions undermines ethical thinking. In conclusion, suggestions are offered for helping economists to become aware of these dimensions of their work and for increasing cognitive awareness of economic values.

Keywords: economics, ethics, growth, history of economic thought, impersonal, market, methodology, normative, philosophy, stability

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